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On David Archuleta's 1998 debut album, he helped write only two of the songs. On the singer's newest album, "The Other Side of Down," he co-wrote all but two of the songs.
"I've grown a lot both writing and having the song go in the direction I want it to go," said the Murray native whose new album of original music will be in stores on Tuesday. (Archuleta also released a Christmas album in 2009.) "I know who I want to work with, rather than having people telling me who to work with."
"The Other Side of Down" represents a leap of maturity for the teen who will enter his twenties on Dec. 28. Archuleta's first, self-titled album was released in a rush after he completed a grueling year coming to national attention by finishing second on the popular FOX reality competition "American Idol" and then touring the nation with his "Idol" castmates. Producers of the show understandably wanted to cash in when the artist is hot, so Archuleta's first album was released in November 2008, less than six months after the season finale. It sold more than 750,000 copies.
This time, Archuleta was able to develop his craft. "I definitely had more time," he said. "It was such a difference. I was able to experiment more."
As a result, Archuleta's album brings the soulful vocals he displayed throughout "American Idol" while demonstrating his flexibility in both piano-driven ballads and modern club anthems with programmed beats, such as those found in recent albums by Katy Perry, Drake and Usher.
In addition, while it's difficult to believe he could have improved his voical control from his "Idol" days, he pushes himself to a vocal range on par with Jason Mraz.
"I love Jason Mraz," Archuleta said. "I wanted to show more personality, be more youthful and playful. I wanted to be my age, but in my way. I wanted to sound young, but I didn't want to be Justin Bieber."
The brash talk is also a departure for Archuleta, who in past interviews has always seemed young in an almost childish, giggling way. But this time around, Archuleta was still cheerful and amiable but he revealed an added dash of confidence.
The new-found boldness might be attributed to a long stint in Nashville, where he linked up with husband-and-wife musicians Joy Williams and Nate Yetton. Joy has received over 11 Dove Award nominations, including multiple Female Vocalist of the Year nods and one Song of the Year nod, and has won an ASCAP Christian Music award for having a "Most Performed Song" in 2005.
"[They helped me] focus on what I wanted to say, allowing me to show who I am," Archuleta said. "She and her husband really took me under their wing. They let me grow and helped me find out what I wanted to say."
Writing his memoir, Chords of Strength: A Memoir of Soul, Song, and the Power of Perseverance, released in June, increased Archuleta's self-awareness. "It opened up that door in my brain," he said. "It helped me grow very quickly. I had closed many doors before, not wanting to talk about this, or talk about that. [But] it's fun to share what you know."
Review • The Murray 19-year-old's debut album was obviously written and recorded in a hurry, with many of the safe adult-contemporary songs swallowing up his top-shelf. On David Archuleta's new album, "The Other Side of Down," Archuleta co-wrote all but two of the songs, and he shows an obvious interest in reaching the dance floor with modern, more programming-heavy club anthems. He balances those songs with piano-driven balladry that too often substitute life-affirming dreck as opposed to more complex issues about a young man ready to enter his 20s. Throughout it all, Archuleta shows different sides of his still-developing vocal chops, which keep getting and better, separating him from his vocally challenged peers. One thing is clear. Archuleta is an artist, and he isn't going anywhere.
New album from Murray singer
David Archuleta's album "The Other Side of Down" will be released Oct. 5.